Can Hong Kong remain a financial hub? What if most of us will be better off if it doesn't? This is not a crazy thought.
The financial pillars that have maintained Hong Kong as a global city for business impoverish large swathes of the population and generate terrible inequalities. Reverse them, and the well-being and living standards of many people will improve. If you can't give them democracy, take care of them from cradle to grave.
In any case, policymakers may be powerless to reverse Hong Kong's declining financial fortune.
In the past six months, many Hong Kong people have shown they value democracy and oppose Chinese rule more than they care about the economy. Many protesters and rioters have even rationalised destroying it to force Beijing's hand.
Foreign and mainland businesses are having second thoughts about their long-held belief that the city is an oasis of stability. Beijing is ready to punish Hong Kong economically and in myriad other ways for its defiance in the years ahead. Washington is willing to exploit the city as a new battleground against China. It now has a legislation that openly threatens the city's special customs status. Economists warn this could undermine the US-HK dollar peg, long a pillar of stability for the local currency and therefore the economy.
Consider this likely scenario in the years ahead. Social instability and widespread discontent, leading to loss of business confidence. A government mired in paralysis and incompetence. Washington repeatedly threatens to pull the plug on the city's separate customs status while Beijing loses faith in Hong Kong.
Do we still need a large reserve fund from land sales for infrastructure building to nowhere, or save HK$1.2 trillion-plus fiscal reserves for a rainy day? Baby, it's pouring outside. Will the US dollar peg survive in the coming years? If not, do we need HK$4 trillion-plus to defend it?
Money parked in reserves is money sucked out of the economy and withheld from the people who own it. I happen to think Hong Kong has a bright future - as "just another mainland city" - once it is fully integrated into the unrivalled economy of the Greater Bay Area after 2047.
However, "one country two systems" has now become a burden, not an asset. We are screwing ourselves over at the moment, with help from Americans. HK$5 trillion-plus can easily tide us over in the next 27 years.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli